Posts Tagged library

Workshops and Wonder

I’ve had some amazing experiences the past few weeks with professionals working in the field.

I was selected to be a student shadow at the local SLA chapters workshop, “A Librarian’s Toolbox: Reopened,” which shared tools that librarians should be aware of to better serve members and accomplish their jobs. There were a number of programs that exist that I wasn’t aware of or hadn’t thought of as a professional tool for librarians. Take Pinterest for example, an MSLIS student at SU, Sarah Bratt, presented on how to use Pinterest to market your library. Typically, people assume that Pinterest is for crafters, cooks, and fans. Using the site, Sarah created a pathfinder (subject guide) on Syracuse history for a class.

Last night, our class visited the Restoration and Preservation departments of SU’s Bird Library. We were able to handle rare books and the tools used to repair them. We also watched demonstrations from students including how to fix a binding. We also helped reattach pages in books that had come out. It was an amazing experience to see how to fix some basic problems with books that I may encounter in my career and in my own shelves.

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MSLIS choose your adventure

We’re getting to that point in the semester when you select which classes you want to take in the spring and perhaps even into next year. I think we need a guide for what impact these decisions will have upon your future in the job market. Especially after this http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/10/placements-and-salaries/2013-survey/explore-all-the-data-2013/#_ recent article published in Library Journal about the employment rate for new graduates.

This is pretty terrifying for someone like myself who just began the program as a way to secure a career, considering I’ve done that previously. So how can you stand out amongst all the candidates with the “same” degree in a hiring climate like we currently have? Where libraries and librarians are not valued as highly as they should be in a society that espouses their value of education?

One thing which I am working on is putting myself out there more in terms of networking and socializing with my peers and professionals in the field. This is something that is a bit of a challenge to me, and I know to many others, as an introvert. I’m looking forward to conferences and workshops this year as both a way to learn more about the field of librarianship and as a way to meet more people.

Select courses that offer marketable skills. Hmmm… back to the original challenge. So many electives are being offered that give you a glimpse down the rabbit hole, so to speak. Each one seems to show you a new opportunity to explore. For example: “New Directions in Academic Libraries”, “Distributed Learning Librarianship”, “Creating, Managing, and Preserving Digital Assets”. I was hoping for a Youth Services elective but sadly that isn’t being offered next semester. However maybe taking a class in a different program is a possibility…”Instructional Design and Development II” could be really useful especially if I consider Academic Libraries as a good fit or even in the public setting.

Luckily, I have a few more weeks to ponder my decision and maybe get some more info so I can make an informed choice.

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What can the library do for you?

There are so many critical reasons that libraries are key to supporting and enhancing our communities. One example is that libraries act as cultural centers for the community they are in. This goes beyond the basic principal that libraries are open to the public and that means that different cultural groups will come and utilize the resources. Librarians can take on the role of preservationists for the unique cultures of their members in the community.

Philadelphia citizens and members of the historical society teamed up with other groups to create PhilaPlace, an online database where community stories are shared. (http://www.philaplace.org/) We as librarian’s in our communities could make this project possible in many more communities. By teaming up with local historical societies and working with the community we can collect and share many local stories that would be lost over time without our involvement. It also is an opportunity to share beyond the community, such as with genealogists and others looking for family and local stories.

Human Library’s have a unique take on what can be included in the libraries collections. They gather people from the community and have them act as the artifacts. Members can participate as a “reader” and speak to the “human books”  and learn about them and their culture. (http://humanlibrary.org/index.html) One example of this is the idea of a Prejudice Library.  Because these conversations are occurring in a safe environment, it is a way to explore prejudices without judgment.

“The Human Library must ALWAYS aim to reflect the challenges of people and groups in the community, that are or have been, exposed to stigma, discrimination, stereotyping or prejudice, based on their lifestyle, sexuality, religious beliefs, social background or status, occupation, ethnicity and so forth. It is not intended as a story telling event for interesting people who already have a voice in the community and media. But rather to give a voice, space and visibility to those of often have none or are overlooked as part of their marginalization.” (http://humanlibrary.org/take-out-your-prejudice.html)

Librarians act as a reference to guide the reader through their encounter with the book if they become confused or have trouble identifying or working through their stereotype in response to the human book they checked out.

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Librarian Education Beyond the Degree

In 6th Thread of the Atlas of New Librarianship, there were so many ideas that stood out to me. The biggest one is that the education of new librarians cannot end with the degree but must continue beyond that with continuing education. One of the things touched on is the need for a program to facilitate the development of librarian practitioners in their professional growth. Workshops, while viewed as beneficial, are not organized or structured enough to meet the needs of the population alone.

While I would agree, based on my reading, that a practical doctorate degree would be useful for those in the field as opposed to the more philosophical research degree for academics, I don’t believe this is necessary for all. Take teaching for example, those who earn a undergrad degree and initial teaching certificate must return in a few years to do a master’s and earn a professional certificate. However, if you have a different undergrad program, you can still earn a master’s in education, receive an initial certificate, and apply for a professional certificate after earning a set number of development hours. Teaching certificates in New York used to be permanent, however, that is no longer true now teachers need to maintain their certificate by taking part in professional development activities such as workshops.

I think the same idea could be applied to librarianship, to maintain your professional status a certain number of workshop/meeting hours would need to be logged and recognized every, let’s say, 5 years. That would give the librarian time to attend different workshops and classes they are interested in. The courses don’t have to be prescribed, the individual can follow their interests. However, perhaps when a set number of credits are earned in a topic of study they would be recognized as a “mentor” in the field (If you think of a better term let me know). This program would facilitate and legitimize the continuing growth of librarians in the professional community while reducing the need for those already holding a masters to pursue a doctoral degree.

 

 

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Topical Centers

The fourth Thread in The Atlas of New Librarianship deals with communities and the importance of gaining community involvement in the library and being involved in the community. The Philadelphia Free Library seems to embody the idea of creating topical centers within libraries through some of the programs they offer the community or communities they serve. Three examples of their efforts are provided in the text and they target the business community, the writing community, and the music community. They facilitated the conversations to develop these facilities by inviting professionals from each group for collaborative conversations.

Each community was interested in promoting different library offerings for their members. The business leaders developed the idea of the Entrepreneurium in their discussion and emphasized the importance of the library for start-ups and small businesses. They saw the role of the library as connecting members to mentors, offering technical services and seminars, and providing conference rooms to connect them with a wider community. The writers wanted to develop a more creative space with an open collection of their works. They didn’t want anyone critiquing them and excluding their writings. They saw the role of the library as providing them the space where they could work and come together socially to foster conversation. The musicians, on the other hand, wanted a stage where they could perform together or for an audience. They also wanted a collection, a space where their performed works would be filed and share with other community members. The librarians part was to improve music literacy by offering classes in music appreciation.

The NOPL Cicero library hosts Library Farm, a community space where members can plant and grown vegetables. The librarians there worked with the community in a need that they could fill to increase literacy in this topic.

“This library service [the farm] would aim to educate, collecting a usable set of materials where roots and vegetables are considered kinds of public documents. It considers the processes involved in growing food along with the food itself to be information.  It assumes Michael Buckland’s conception of the thingness of information, and catalogs the actual stuff that aims to convey knowledge or understanding. The documents in this library farm would partially sustain members of the community, physically, socially, and economically.” (http://infospace.ischool.syr.edu/2010/09/30/library-farm/)

Based on this quote, the idea of an artifact or a collection is only limited by what the community determines it needs. The library is the great public forum in any community. It is up to us as librarians to bring diverse groups together to facilitate conversations aimed at improving the community and putting those plans into actions.

 

 

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The Organic Library

I interviewed the children’s librarian at Mundy Library yesterday for a class project. When we were talking about the resources her library offers to the community, she mentioned that they have a social worker on staff a few days each week. We began talking about the need for other people as resources in the library and I mentioned one of the ideas from the reading was “checking-out” experts, for example a lawyer, a nurse, or an accountant. These professionals would donate their time to come in and consult with patrons on a one-on-one basis (p.67).

I think this is an amazing idea for many of the library’s in the area. What if each library were to host a different professional one or two days each week. First off, the expert would be able to connect and market their skills to a unique group of people. Secondly, this would not be limited to one population of members; it would be a draw for the surrounding areas as well. I know around tax season I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to consult with an accountant, for free, to answer a few questions I have about filling out those forms.

Despite the great advances we have had as a society, the common perception is still that a library is that place with all the books. Why can’t it be that place where I was able to answer some question or the place where I created something? One of the big movements in library’s right now is the idea of the Makerspace. Fayetteville Free Library has created an amazing space for members with their Fab Lab. What I like about this is the space is not limited to the 3-D printer (although that could warrant its own area), but also brings in sewing machines and other resources to allow the entire community to utilize the Lab and see its value.

Another reimagining of the role of the librarian and the library is the idea of “production librarians” (p.67) who would, beyond their roles producing for the library itself, work for members who need a “production assistant” to implement their project. These individuals and others would help us redefine what a library is for the general public by making us (as librarians) the expert and our skills more accessible (or easily identified) to our members.

The idea of a library is organic and grows from the community it represents; by limiting the offerings of a library, we are in affect stifling the community and their opportunity to develop.

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Crafting a Mission

According to R.D. Lankes text, “The Atlas of New Librarianship,” “The mission of librarians is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” This statement is broad and encompasses the entire field of librarianship, from public to academic, from schools to special collections. Additionally, the definition of a library is currently evolving to incorporate more diverse collections of materials. Perhaps the solution for a librarian, whether new or invested in a position, is to have a personal mission statement.

I first encountered the concept of having a personal mission while I was pursuing my teaching degree. At Le Moyne, one of the tasks for preservice or student teachers was to develop a brief statement that encompassed our goals and who we were as teachers. I created the following statement at that time to summarize my views:

“My mission as a teacher is to help all my students succeed by providing them with every possible learning opportunity. I will strive to achieve this goal by teaching in ways that meet all of my students’ needs. As an adult and authority figure, I will apply the rules consistently and universally to my students. I will endeavor to treat all of my students with respect individually and culturally.” (Brown 2008)

Now, while my ideas have changed, I still view this exercise as critical to my development as a professional. Within my current viewpoint as a new library student, drawing on the new librarianship mission and my prior views, I would like to share the following as my new and evolving mission as a librarian:

 My mission as a librarian is to facilitate access to information for all the diverse members of my library community as they each pursue their search for knowledge. I will work within my community to improve the state of our society by providing services and programs that my members need to foster their journeys. I will strive to create a welcoming environment for all community members. I will continue to grow and expand my knowledge in the field of librarianship to better serve each of my members needs.

While this certainly doesn’t address all of a librarians responsibilities, I believe that it does sum up their intention or purpose. I imagine that if you wrote your own mission it would differ from mine and that’s to be expected as each person is unique. I would however assume that they would all have something in common, some theme that would tie them all together. I hope you will be inspired to create your own mission and apply to your current role or use it as a guide to your continued development in the field.

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